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LSUA PROFESSOR RECEIVES LASIP GRANT

Released: 03/16/1999

<p> Dr. Thomas Awtry, associate professor of mathematics at Louisiana State University at Alexandria and vice president of colleges for the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics, was recently awarded a $148,177 grant from the Louisiana Systematic Initiatives Program (LaSIP) Council. LaSIP was started in 1991 by the National Science Foundation after the decline in students continuing their education in mathematic and scientific fields. Its purpose is to promote interest in the fields of mathematics, science and technology throughout grades K-12. The Louisiana program has been one of the most successful programs of its type in the nation. </p><p> This year, the LaSIP Council awarded nearly $4.1 million for mathematics, science and technology enhancement projects developed by universities and schools throughout the state. More than 750 teachers are expected to participate in teaching programs funded by these grants, which are supported by the National Science Foundation, the state Board of Regents and state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. </p><p> Dr. Awtry&acute;s grant, only the second ever awarded to Central Louisiana, will be used forProject TERM (Teachers Experiencing Reform Mathematics). This is a program for teachers of grades 1-5 to promote "hands-on" and "self-discovery" activities by exploring various topics using calculators, the Internet and manipulatives. Forty teachers in the Central Louisiana area, including Avoyelles, Grant, Rapides and Vernon parishes, will participate in the intensive three-week summer program. Two two-day follow-up sessions will be held in the spring and fall. The teachers will receive a stipend for attending plus $400 worth of teaching materials. In return, the teachers are required to host a family math night for the parents of the children in their classes as well as an in-service class for their teaching peers. </p><p> "The purpose of the program is to familiarize teachers with the reform math movement-- what math we teach and how we teach it in elementary grades," said Dr. Awtry. "It is an opportunity for LSUA to benefit all of the local community." </p><p> TERM is a follow-up program to CLEEMP (Central Louisiana Elementary Education Mathematics Program), Dr. Awtry&acute;s program from last year which was also sponsored by LaSIP. The two programs were instated to teach elementary school teachers the new reform movement in mathematics which emphasizes hands-on learning. Recent studies have shown that the abstractness of math has been pushed too quickly and that children need a greater foundation in practical, word problem types of mathematics. "But it&acute;s hard for teachers today to teach in a way that they were never taught," said Awtry. "That&acute;s why they need this program." </p><p> "It&acute;s good for the teachers to get a chance to learn something they wouldn&acute;t otherwise know," said Dr. Randall Stovall, LSUA&acute;s vice-chancellor for academic affairs. "Dr. Awtry gets the chance to talk to professionals who are involved in math at the elementary level and can give their insight on how to teach. Basically, it&acute;s a win-win situation." </p><p> LaSIP is awarding Louisiana State University at Alexandria, Baton Rouge and Shreveport a total of $877,550 this year for seven separate math and science programs. Hopefully, LaSIP&acute;s success will encourage further change and justify additional funding for improving educational opportunities of Louisiana children. </p>